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The Gay Communication Game and Social Etiquette

by Vince Pellegrino
Wednesday Jan 8, 2014

With regards to the above title; like tequila and coke, the two generally don't mix well!

The same holds true for combining this "gay communication game" with social etiquette, the combination of the two can create a very incompatible duo.

For example, the other night at the local bar in Connecticut, I overheard friends talking about another friend's New Year's Eve party, and yet, there is no invite for yours truly, which struck me as quite odd, being that both of the hosts were just at my annual Birthday/Xmas party less than a week before?

I questioned myself as to whether I offended them in some way? Did they perhaps compile the guest list months ago, way before my party? Or, did they remember that I was allergic to their Siamese cats? (I did make several visits to the bathroom to wash my face the last time I was in their home). So then, what happened?

As I have discussed in past articles on the topic of gay communication and the games being played where someone always gets hurt -- it is the holidays, with all their forced frivolity, that often puts undue pressure on many of us to always be somewhere festive. And, not being invited to a party could possibly jeopardize a friendship if we find ourselves, surprisingly, off the guest list for no apparent reason.

I know that some of you are probably thinking, "what's the big deal about not getting a party invite?" But, despite whether or not you personally care about getting an invite to a friend's party, I tend to believe that most of us really do.

So, at the news of not being among a select few who were invited, images came quickly to mind of high school, and feeling like the proverbial social outcast; only this time, not because of my "secret" gay identity, but the result of finding myself outside of the popular kids' social circles once again.

Most assuredly, memories of high school were not all that bad, recalling how I had a "secret" boyfriend/best friend in junior and high school; a very popular soccer player and all around stud with a bevy of girlfriends, who made social (sex) life go a whole lot easier.

Regardless of our friendship, I was rarely invited to the "cool kid's" parties because I was his secret, and I didn't get to "hangout" with his crowd since I wasn't "into" sports or, the ladies.

Unlike the younger generation of gays today who can be more open within their social groups, men of my age (early 60s), tended to find themselves outside of the "straight" community during their teenage years because of our "secret." Or, were like my best friend, able to fit in with the group of popular kids by playing sports and keeping the "gay thing" on the "down low."

But, for the majority of my generation, it was more difficult to assimilate with the more popular kids because of fear of having one's secret identity exposed; a fear that often led to many of us isolating ourselves from the majority of our classmates. That self imposed isolation often resulted in being viewed as loners, or, basically, outsiders.

Nevertheless, let's depart from this nostalgia trip and return to the topic at hand; gay games and the more obvious mistakes or errors in judgment with regards to social etiquette.

Of special mention, as being excluded from a friend's guest list may fall within the parameters of a breech of social etiquette for the host, the invited guest who fails to show up for a catered party, and does not call or text the host in the age of "smart-phones" (a questionable term since they tend to make the user "dumb"), should take some responsibility for their lack of social decorum as well.

What I find particularly amusing is upon seeing the negligent guests at the gym or local bar, they will often make no mention of their absence at your party, acting as if their absence went unnoticed and conducting business as usual with such greetings as: "Darling, Happy New Year baby."

That particular greeting was quickly followed by a kiss on the cheek and a complementary hug. Or, as another "no show" did by giving me a brief hello, then, returning to texting on their phone without even a flickering of an excuse; take your pick.

Those types of behavior concern me most, because I worry whether this new generation of gays are turning into a bunch of "social butterflies", who, despite having all the technology in the world at their disposal, only choose to communicate at their own whim and not for the convenience of others.

Or, as one friend chooses to do with regards to party invitations, by creating an "A-List," "B- List," and "C-List," and will go so far as to tell his friends where their names fall within each list! Now, he's what we call a "boor" or boorish (a "neanderthal" with regards to social etiquette).

So, next time you chose to not include a friend for your social gathering (I was eventually informed by my friend that he used a rotating guest list) or, fail to attend a social gathering with no communication, please try to be more cognizant of the consequences of your choices.

In short, try to be kind and considerate of others and don't always think about yourselves. Start the new year right and work on your communication skills toward being more other-focused than self-focused. Otherwise, you are no better than a bunch of Mean Girls, and in truth, who really wants to be one of those girls? (And if you do, there is your "problem is a nutshell").

And to further affirm the Mean Girls analogy, my younger sister upon hearing of my New Year's dilemma, responded that the entire dynamic reminded her of the cheerleaders at her high school -- my point exactly.

Happily, my best friend and I found ourselves invited to a party in a historic townhouse right on my street for New Year's, and ended up partying in Greenwich Village -- a perfect evening.

So, taking the title from a Shakespearean comedy, "All's Well That Ends Well."

In the words of the Dalai Lama (1935) with regards to respecting others: "When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace."

Have a happy 2014 & be kind.

Dr. Vince Pellegrino has PhDs in educational theater and drama therapy from New York University and is a board-certified psychotherapist in New York City and Connecticut. He teaches communications at Hofstra University. He is currently working on a book, "Gay Communication Game," about "Gayspeak"; an interactive TV program featuring real-time therapy sessions in development. Go to Dr. Vince TV for more information.


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